(Morten Andersen photos courtesy of New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings)
Talk of Fame Network
Major-league baseball’s all-time runs leader, Rickey Henderson, is in the Hall of Fame. So is the NBA’s career scoring leader, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And make that a hat trick for the NHL with career scoring champ Wayne Gretzky.
So why isn’t Morten Andersen in there with them? He’s the NFL’s career scoring leader with 2,544 points, yet he’s not in Canton – not yet he’s not. But he is one of the 15 modern-era finalists for the Class of 2016, the second straight year Andersen made it that far.
That’s the good news. The bad is that he’s not enshrined, and while Andersen said he doesn’t consider his exclusion “frustrating,” he did make it clear on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast that he thinks his career is Hall-of-Fame worthy.
“That’s not my call,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m very proud of my career; proud of what I accomplished. And the skins are on the wall. Now it’s up to somebody else to judge where I belong. I feel my credentials speak for themselves, and I’ll just leave it at that.
“It’s uncomfortable for me to be the one talking about what I did. It is what it is. And if those numbers that I had … and the results that I had … hold up historically — and I think they have over time — I think they’re relevant. And if I change the way people thought about the position and the position becoming a viable weapon … and changing it historically … it would be hard not to look at my candidacy.”
Andersen has a point. He kicked a league-record 565 field goals, spent 25 years in the league and retired at the age of 47 after a season where he nailed 25 of 28 field-goal attempts – the highest single-season percentage (89.3) of his career.
Yet the Hall’s board of selectors seem blind to specialists, with only two in Canton. One is kicker Jan Stenerud, who was chosen in 1991, and the other is punter Ray Guy – who had to wait 25 years before he was selected in 2014. But that’s it.
The question, of course, is: Why?
“There is no logical explanation,” said Andersen. “The discussion has to be: ‘Well, he’s not an every-down player.’ I don’t know what the discussion is, but I don’t see a logical explanation. You have to judge everyone … every candidate … on his merits, and how they hold up historically against his peers and how he was in his era and if it stacks up.
“That’s all I can say about that. I don’t find any logical reason why you don’t have the points leader in the history of the game in there. If you look at all other major sports … I think Rickey Henderson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wayne Gretzky are all in their respective Hall of Fames. So that’s all I can say about it.”
The board will have something to say about it Saturday, Feb. 6, when it meets to vote on the 15 modern-era finalists, two senior candidates and one contributor candidate. Andersen’s candidacy is enhanced not only by prodigious numbers but by longevity. He was dominant at his position for so long he was named to two all-decade teams (1980s and 1990s).
“I think my immigrant perspective, coming from Europe and not growing up with the sport had given me … I didn’t grow up with this pressure of having to succeed in this sport,” he said. “I really came into football by coincidence. So when I started playing I was mostly self-taught, and I started looking at guys who were successful, emulating them. And, as I went along, it was just a one-kick mentality. I never thought it was going to be life or death for me. I knew it was a game, and I kinda had a sense of humor about it. Just went out and worked and tried to be the very best and spent a lot of time.
“Maybe that’s my OCD. I’m a Type-A personality, and I want to be as good as I can be … and I always try to find ways to become better. And (I got there by) taking other guys who were really good at what they did and using their knowledge and becoming better that way. Just a lot of help along the way and a deep desire to become the very, very best I could be for a long, long period of time. I can only say, looking back: Mission accomplished.”